Friday, January 30, 2009


Thought the temperature is a pleasant 55 degrees in my Florida back yard, most of the nation is suffering what might be described as uncomfortably chilly weather.

So, for those of you who have cold fingers and toes, here's a little piece I found in a journal from June 2005, part of a writing assignment for my master's degree.

If this whole mind over matter thing is true, and I think it is, this should warm you up at least a degree or two:

I am sitting on the hot pavement of bridge number six north on the Blackwater State Heritage Trail. It's sultry. Sticky-hot. The humidity is like being in a steam room after several days of heavy rain. There is no breeze.

The brown, tannin-stained water of the wetland slough rolls beneath us, making little noise - just little rippling sounds where it swrils and eddies around the stems of plants - small maples and bog buttons and seemingly single fern leaves pointing at the sky.

These are mixed in with a thousand plants who are yet strangers to me. (It's like being at a cocktail party full of beautiful, interesting people - will there be enough time for me to know them all?)

A biker rides by and gives us a tiny breath of breeze.

Suddenly in the bright sunlight, the air can hold no more and fat drops begin peppering the water, the plants' leaves, the pavement, and my left thigh. A tiny, delicious relief.

It stays, a wet and shiny polka dot on my still untanned skin - simply because there is nowhere for it to go - the air will not take it back.

The momentary sprinkle does nothing to quiet the sweet trills around me - the caw caw caw of a large songbird in the distance, the occasional grrrulllp of a bullfrog, the twee twee of a jay , the buzz of dancing, mating dragonflies and (not far enough away) the rumble of logging trucks on Munson Highway.

I blow on my arm for a moment, hoping to cool the glistening sweat that has coated the inside of my elbow.

Beyond and above the powerlines that stretch through he wetland and over the bridge I see the bright whit of an anvil cloud and watch tis top billow and roll, building toward the edge of the troposphere.

I cannot tolerate my shoes and stick my bare feet out over the water - in hope of a cool updraft that doesn't come.

Still, bare feet always feel better. Freer.

I see trash trapped in a sandbar at the rivers' edge. It was white once - perhaps a bottle or bucket. Now it is brownish, old, and dirty. Funny that it is dirty when nothing else here is. Nature doesn't get dirty.

Splattering rain again. Smallish drops land on my outstretched legs - knees, calves, ankles - God bless it.

And on the page, too - ink is not waterproof.

This rain does not smell - or, rather, this place is so saturated with the scents of wet and decay and the sweet exhalation of green things that the smell of rain is incidental.

I ride this trail on my bicycle several times a week, but haven't before now gotten to sit still on it. Sitting still is marvelous.

I glimpse a brown bird that has taunted me on my rides. Not the shape of a robin, not the color of a mocking bird - it is itself, and another guest a the party that I'm eager to know.

What is that peeew peeew peeew peeew in the distance? Such a call from my childhood! It is the song of spring and "All's right with the world."

Maybe it's better that I don't know who sings it.

The slough flows from somewhere deep in the woods - an opening in the green of the trees that, to me, looks like all forest openings I've ever sen: like the entrance to an enchanted world.

How I long to hike up my skirt, jump in, and wade upstream in the cool, tea-brown water and into that dark, green garden.

But today, the only water for me is the bead of sweat rolling down my spine. It's time for me to go. Papers to write and research to cull. For a moment I wonder how that really might be taking away from my education.

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